Jump to content

Cutting Off a Customer?


Recommended Posts

Hi, for those who quilt for others - I am renting one of my machines to people who want to learn how to use my IntelliQuilter and quilt their tops themselves.  I spent a wretched 10 hours with a customer whose quilt was totally unsquared and wavy.  It's not all her fault, because it was one of her first quiltsand she said when I asked her that she wasn't taught to square up her quilts or how to measure borders.  We got it quilted but it didn't look very good after several tucks in the border and extra batting stuffed in to take up the fullness.  I'm embarrassed for anyone to know that she quilted it here.  She is a very nice person but she told me she had several more at home she wanted to do (eeek!)  I did tell her she needed to look at them and try to fix them before she brought any more in.  My question is, what tactful way have you all told customers not to bring you those kind of quilts?  Do you ever cut anyone off because the trouble isn't worth the money?  Also, is there any other way besides looking for wavy borders that will alert you a quilt is unsuited for longarming?  I've checked borders but sometimes that has fooled me - I had one that looked totally wavy but quilted out just fine.  For a final rant, I wish people who taught quilting classes would not just tell people how to put a top together but would take a few moments to show them how to piece, square up, and measure borders!!!!  Every quilter should take technique classes!

Thanks for listening!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If this was a machine rental and you weren't the one who actually did the quilting, I don't see how it would reflect badly on you.  She just quilted it on your machine.  If you're in the business of renting out your machine, then it doesn't make sense to fire a customer for his/her work product.  On the hand, a little guidance from you may go a long way in building goodwill with this customer.  Would you rather have her brag to her friends how your help made her quilts turn out better or complain to her friends about how you won't let her rent your machine?  

I don't have a quilting business, but I'm in several facebook groups where there are many who do.  I see lots of posts about those who quilt on less than ideally pieced tops.  Most of the time the customers are thrilled with the finished product despite the fixes the quilter had to do.  

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

SueD is correct.  You didn't quilt her quilt, she rented your machine and did it herself and that is what she will tell her friends and family...she did it ALL.  This in no way reflects badly on you.  Quite the opposite, she will tell them how much you helped her.  For being in business of quilting for others, you need to take the bad tops with the good tops.  You start picking and choosing what tops you will quilt and what you won't you WILL get a very bad reputation!  

I do agree that quilt instructors need to properly teach finish techniques, which most do not.  I quilt for others and will 'fix' a wavy border on the first quilt. I do tell the owner the problems with the quilt and instruct on how to correct that in the future.  Should I get more quilts from this person with the same problems, then I charge more money and tell them why the cost went up. It doesn't take too many of the increase in fees for them to do their quilts properly!!   I have Never refused to quilt for a person because their quilt wasn't up to my person standards! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now she knows that she needs to piece better and you know what to look for. I agree it's all her work and not yours so don't be concerned it will mar your reputation. Don't help her and don't hover unless you're concerned about her damaging your machine. If she asks for advice, be generous, but you aren't hired to give piecing lessons. Nor are you hired to give her quilting lessons, I suppose---just to show the mechanics and stand back. One of two things will happen if she continues to be a customer---she'll improve her piecing and have nice flat quilts, or she won't improve and become discouraged because her quilts have so many flaws (and probably stop coming). I'm betting on the former! Who isn't entranced by a nicely quilted quilt that one makes from start to finish? You may eventually lose her anyway when/if she decides to buy her own longarm!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 hours ago, kbaumbusch said:

.....is there any other way besides looking for wavy borders that will alert you a quilt is unsuited for longarming?  I've checked borders but sometimes that has fooled me - I had one that looked totally wavy but quilted out just fine.  For a final rant, I wish people who taught quilting classes would not just tell people how to put a top together but would take a few moments to show them how to piece, square up, and measure borders!!!!  Every quilter should take technique classes!

I don't rent my machine out for people to quilt on, but I have provided longarm quilting for customers since 2007, so I've experienced every level of quilt under the sun: from very beginner not knowing what a 1/4" seam allowance is, to advanced quilter whose quilts were immaculately spectacular. So, here's my perspective on it all:  Bottom line: it's just a quilt that will be loved and cuddled under, and 99.999% of the time the customer is thrilled because it's quilted. It might not be perfect, but it will be loved. So, I don't try to fret too much. The friendly ones can be challenging and wonky, but I don't spend lots of time trying to fix a friendly border. It's going to lay on a bed or on a couch. I've quilted many quilts with dog-ears in the corners and friendly borders. Never a customer complaint. I just manipulate the quilt top to get it to lay as flat as possible. One thing that drives me batty is when a seam is open, and my hopping foot quilts itself into a hole and it's a major PITA to get that unstuck without damaging the fabric. So, I hold the top up towards the light and look through to see if there are any open seams and fix those. For the new customers who are learning, I always always spoke to them in a way that I would have wanted to be spoke to if I were in their shoes. I was never snotty or condescending. I encouraged them, gave them some simple tips to do for improving, and explained the basics when it was necessary. Always took my advice to heart and did better next time. Another piece of advice I can give you for those double D and couble C quilt tops is to starch and steam them really good before putting them on the quilt frame. The starch and steam will tighten up the fibers, make the top a little stiffer so you can manage the wonkiness a little better. Definitely charge for that service, or ask your customer to do this starch and steam before brining it to you. Quilters are just like you and me. We are all loving this hobby, so I never discouraged, always tried to help and encourage. In all of the years I have quilted for customers, I never used the word "no" or turned a customer away, except for one lady who I did not know who handed me her wadded up quilt top (seriously) and it looked like a dog had laid on top of it for three weeks. I handed it back and asked her to please remove the dog hair. She was actually mad at me (embarrassed?) and I never saw her again. OK bye. LOL. 

Best 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wanted to add one more thing regarding your original heading of cutting off a customer. So here is the thing and don't ever forget it: You are providing a service. You as the business owner reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. This is your machine and your time is valuable. What you need to do is establish some "guestimated hours" to complete specific sizes of quilts. 

For example:

  • A crib size baby quilt might take an hour.
    • Set a general ballpark cost price range for quilting a baby quilt within a reasonable timeframe. Quote the customer that in general, this quilt will cost X dollars, but this is an estimate. Have something written in there that if it takes more than (reasonable time) to complete quilting, an additional fee of, X dollars per 30 minutes will be added until it's completed. 
  • A lap size quilt might take two hours.  Ditto above. 
  • A queen size quilt might take three-four hours. Ditto on the general price range.
  • Same with king size quilt. 

When you set those general price ranges and estimated times for completion, to include the additional charge (for those problem quilts). If you have a customer that is requiring you to spend a lot of time fussing on a quilt because it's wonky or your having to take pleats and be creative in just getting the quilt to lay flat, you need to charge for that time. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Well this is a tricky question like many that have pointed out you are renting the machine and they are quilting it, HOWEVER it also sounds like you are spending even more time assisting this person instead of just quilting it yourself. This is where boundaries must be established in the beginning. I don't rent my machine, for several reasons but that is another topic. I do know several others that have rental programs and most of them require a basic training class before even letting them rent their machine. But during this basic training you then need to set the boundaries that YOU are not there to hold their hand all the time, you obviously have other things to do that is why you are renting your machine. When people rent a car do they expect the rental company to be with them the whole time explaining what all the car does ??? No they don't they provide a basic understanding and then it is understood that the person driving has and understanding of driving a car. I know that it not exactly apples to apples, but I think you get my drift. NOW as far as those of us that do quilt for customers I have a similar situation I've had this customer that has now brought me in 2 absolutely terrible quilt tops, I spend a great deal of time trying to make them look the best that they can, but they still look God awful, and here is my problem with "well it's just a quilt that will be loved and the customer will be happy to have it quilted" There will be others that might look at this quilt and what do you think the first thing they will notice ??? that's right they will notice all the pleats and tucks and all that is bad, and guess what they will immediately think ? "Who quilted this" so no I don't agree to quilt someones treasure just because it is going to be loved. I have a reputation and granted I'm not always the friendliest person, but guess what I always have a waiting time for my quilting. I will be honest I'm having a hard time with HOW to tell this lady that I just cannot continue to quilt tops that are in this type of condition. My problem is I don't have a very good filter and tend to say exactly what I think sometimes, I think that is why most of my customers actually like me. I don't take advantage of anyone and I tell the truth. Okay this reply went WAY longer than I expected. The bottom line and something that I need to revisit myself is SETTING EXPECTATIONS !!! No matter what it is even if it means losing a customer if you set the tone then you are normally respected and they can not say they were never told anything.

Thank you,

The Grumpy old MAN quilter in Texas.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Will:  There are several things to think about.  First, who are your customers?  What type quilting do you do, and what type do you want to do?  Who will see the completed work on these "awful" quilts?  What impact will being rude have on your customer base, and potential future customers.

I quilt for customers.  My target customers are poor (financially) quilters who make an occasional quilt and just want it finished. Most of whom I know.  I do NOT sell custom quilting.  I'm quick in my turn around, and low cost.  As a result I frequently receive quilt tops that are not examples of high quilting skills.  I decide what thread to use, and offer roll batting which I sell at cost.  I don't accept customer supplied batting (or at least rarely).  I occasionally do minor repairs to missed seams and the like, just so the quilting can be finished.

If a quilter brings me a top that I'm particularly unhappy with, when I finish the quilting job. I will discuss the faults with her, and warn her that any future quilts must address those issues, or I won't quilt it for her.  I don't know whether I've lost customers by doing this or not.  Frankly I don't care.

I do simple random meander quilting.  I do not do pantos.  The reason for no custom, no panto is to limit the customer request, and to keep thru put high.  I don't make a lot of money quilting, but the hourly rate produced by my "business plan", and low aggravation level is much better than if I custom quilted.  As for my reputation, well I've noticed that when quilts are finished most people don't even notice the quilting.  They see the quilt pattern, the fabric and the colors.  Not much else.

So My suggestion:  Don't worry so much about how the low skill level of the piecing might reflect on you.  Have a discussion with your customer, and tell her what you want changed on future jobs, with a warning that if she doesn't meet your standard, you won't accept any more commissions.  Don't accept jobs that you don't like doing.  If you don't like it, you probably won't do a great job on it anyway.  Just my take.  Jim   

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just my opinion here so take it for what it's worth.  I don't quilt as a business and my quilting for others has been limited to handful of charity quilts.....

It would seem unlikely that someone looking at the low-skill-level quilt would be doing so in order to select a longarmer for their own project.  It's probably not on display as a sample reference of your work or a showpiece, but being used as a quilt. In my limited experience, people who don't do their own quilting don't notice flaws.  I haven't done many quilts, but I notice every bump and wobble and others just ooh and aah over how great it looks.  As with many artistic endeavors, we are our own worst critics.  Bottom line is it's your choice to accept or decline a customer.  I'm thinking it's more likely that you will get more bad references from the "fired" customer than potential lost customers noticing pleats/tucks in another customer's quilt.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...